Los Angeles–Highlighting the May 22 Natural History auction at Bonhams in Los Angeles is an impressive and comprehensive selection of natural décor. Prestigious additions to any environment, these items offer awe-inspiring interior design focal points or accents. Natural elements offer a contemporary, eco-friendly update while offering the opportunity to own a timeless wonder of a prehistoric treasure. Bring the outdoors in at Bonhams with a one-of-a-kind piece for your office, home or unique space.
Natural wonders from the May 22 auction include murals of limestone with amazing fossil inclusions, fitted with French cleats for wall display, led by four exceptional lots: Prepared in deep relief, an unusual, fossilised palm flower evokes a modern art piece (est. $20,000-30,000); a magnificent 51-million-year-old palm frond is a stunning presentation (est. $40,000-50,000); a pair of book-matched palm flowers, part and counterpart of the same fossil flower specimen, are incomparable ($15,000-20,000); and a framed limestone mural of fossil fishes displays like a stone "aquarium" (est. $12,000-15,000.)
Offerings of sculpture include two important lots of stunningly beautiful scientific glass from the Manhattan Project: a mushroom-cloud-shaped sculpture entitled "First Light" (est. $100,000–125,000) and a sculptural specimen (est. $20,000–30,000), both offered on lighted basalt bases.
Two dramatic mineral sculptures by Lawrence Stoller (designer of the centrepiece of the "Eleven Tears Memorial" at ground zero in New York City) are offered: The Guardian, a smoky quartz specimen on illuminated bronze base (est. 25,000–30,000) and Chrysocolossus, a chrysocolla and patinated bronze sculpture estimated at 18,000-22,000.
A Jurassic "sea lily" from Germany that displays a single 72-inch-long flower-like "blossom" is also featured in the sale. Presented in a wall-mountable vertical slab of its natural gray-black matrix, the graceful and dramatic plant-like creature was actually a filter-feeding marine animal (est. $15,000–20,000.)
Also on offer is a brilliant opalescent ammonite from Canada. The highly decorative and colourful piece exhibits brilliant hues of red and green, on a plate of irregularly shaped gray-black matrix, for which the finest specimens of this locality are known. The large fossil specimen measures nineteen inches in diameter (est. $45,000–55,000), and would make a welcome addition to any décor.
Formidable and impressive items include a rare, wall-mountable Jurassic crocodile in matrix (est. $70,000-90,000) and an impressive skull of a Titanothere, an extinct rhinoceros-like animal (est. $20,000-25,000). A giant prehistoric "Irish Elk" skull with antlers measuring five feet across the width (est. $30,000-35,000) would make an imposing design focal point above a fireplace.
A selection of prestigious dinosauria lots are included in the auction, highlighted by a juvenile Tenontosaurus tilletti skeleton discovered in 2008 (estimate: $150,000-180,000); a Tyrannosaurus rex maxilla (upper "jaw") from Montana with seven teeth (est. $70,000–90,000); an 11-foot dinosaur leg from a new, undescribed species of North American long-necked dinosaur (est. $30,000–40,000); and an exceptional T. rex tooth from Wyoming (est. $12,000-15,000.)
Numerous impressive interior design accents for all tastes and collecting levels are also on offer. A pair of elegant chairs carved of Indonesian petrified wood ($8,000-10,000), a black petrified wood slab tabletop with stainless steel base (est. $6,000-7,000) and numerous affordable lots: a planetary-inspired 20-inch natural onyx globe of neutral colour with varied horizontal tonal striations, lit from the interior; three distinctive lots of polished petrified wood bookends and a contour-polished petrified wood specimen; and, for seaside décor, a framed collection of coral or shark jaws.
Auctions of natural wonders at Bonhams will begin on May 21 with the Gems, Minerals & Lapidary Works of Art sale where the first carved ruby scale-model of a dragster to be featured at public auction. This unique vehicle is modelled after the famed Greer-Black-Prudhomme Dragster, which was raced by Don "The Snake" Prudhomme, built by Kent Fuller and tuned by Keith Black. Carved by designer Luis Alberto Quispe Aparicio from solid panels of ruby, the model is detailed with Obsidian tyres, a gold vermeil engine and a polished rock crystal wind screen. The dragster measures approximately 60 centimetres in length and is estimated to bring $150,000-200,000, among others. (Please see separate press release.)
The illustrated auction catalogue for both of these May auctions will be available online for review and purchase in the weeks preceding the sale at www.bonhams.com.
Preview: May 17-21, Los Angeles
Auction: May 21 and 22, Los Angeles
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com